Prime land


In every administration’s desire to generate additional revenues, the idea of selling land occupied by units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines always arises. Last week, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority again announced plans to “maximize the use” of military camps across the country by transforming those in the provinces into productive agricultural zones to generate jobs and reducing Camp Aguinaldo to a smaller central command post.

Created on March 13, 1992, the BCDA is mandated by law to transform former US military bases and sprawling AFP camps into alternative productive civilian use. BCDA president Arnel Casanova was quoted as saying that his organization and the AFP had agreed to tap the economic potentials of the idle military camps. The subjects of the latest pronouncement are Camp Aguinaldo (176 hectares in Quezon City), Fort Magsaysay (47.46 hectares in Nueva Ecija), Camp Peralta (33.22 hectares in Capiz), Camp O’Donnell (1,925 hectares in Tarlac), Camp Kibaritan (42,000 hectares in Bukidnon), and the Naval Station San Miguel (960.52 hectares in Zambales).

There will be a master plan, in which the AFP and the Department of National Defense will have a major role in deciding whether to sell, lease, develop, or modernize the camps. The bidding for the conduct of the master plan is expected in the next six months.

The plan to privatize a portion of Camp Aguinaldo is a result of suggestions by defense and military officials in 2011 for the government to build a Pentagon-like facility that will house the DND, the headquarters of the AFP, and its three major services—the Army, Air Force and Navy, which are headquartered respectively in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City; Villamor Air Base in Pasay City; and the Naval Station Jose Andrada on Roxas Boulevard in Manila.

Also in 2011, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said the Aquino administration was planning to privatize the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame in Quezon City as part of efforts to generate funds to pump-prime the economy and modernize the military and the police. Back then, another option considered was to move the military headquarters to a new home in Clark Field in Pampanga or Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija.

The desire to raise funds using AFP assets was inspired by the successful privatization in 1992 of the 240-hectare Fort Bonifacio and, years later, of 25 hectares of Villamor Air Base. Those 25 hectares are now known as Newport City, an urban integrated tourism resort complex featuring a strong information-technology component and airport-related businesses developed by Megaworld Corp. A consortium led by Metro Pacific Corp. had won the Fort Bonifacio bidding, which was dubbed the “deal of the century” given the acquisition price of P30.4 billion, or P333,283.88 per square meter. However, Metro Pacific had to sell its interest in the property after the 1997 Asian financial crisis. It sold its stake in Fort Bonifacio Development Corp., the joint venture created to implement the master plan for the former military facility, to the consortium of Ayala Land Inc. and Evergreen Holdings Inc. of the Campos group in 2005.

Teenagers who hang out at BGC (as Bonifacio Global City is now commonly known) may not have the slightest idea that it is a former military base complete with an 18-hole championship golf course. All they see is a modern city with the attendant problems of progress: traffic and congestion. It is in the light of these “modern” problems that we think the government should keep Camp Aguinaldo as it is. The camp is one of the few remaining open spaces in Metro Manila that environmentalists describe as the lungs of the polluted metropolis. The same attitude should likewise be taken vis-à-vis other prime pieces of real estate like that occupied by the Veterans Memorial Medical Center, also in Quezon City.

We can just imagine the horrendous traffic and congestion if these pieces of land are converted into mixed-use complexes with condominium buildings, shopping malls and restaurants. If left with no choice but to privatize these parcels of real estate, the government can set as a requirement in the bidding rules that at least half of the property be kept as open space. A limit on the height of buildings to be constructed in the area can also be made part of the bidding rules. After all, Metro Manila is congested enough.

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  • Charlotte Samaniego

    It’s clear that the there is no urban planning going on in here. Everything for the sake of money.

    • farmerpo

      Tama ka diyan, Charlotte. Is there any other reason for being in government?

  • tgtercero

    Another imbecility! .. The irreplaceable need is decongestion and population / human activity dispersal! MetroManila must be rescued from the irreversible
    self-strangulation situation that decades of neglect and the absence of foresight has caused. The greatest contribution that our military establishment can contribute towards solving the national malaise which is MetroManila is to remove ALL the military camps……together with ALL of its population…..officers, men, their families who live in the camps’ vicinities in squatter and slum colonies…..together with camp following economic and social services to verdant venues that will provide better living conditions for enlisted men’s families and “breathing spaces” for vacated areas! It can be done!

    • tarikan

      It’s a good idea relocating military camps out in the provinces.

  • varmintz

    How about partitioning off parcels from each of these sizeable holdings and building for the good of the country long needed modern Penitentiaries/work camps to hold the criminals in Philippine society. Imagine the need for Licence plates and road signs for the entire country being handled in house. The savings alone would help pay for the construction of any ambitious plan..
    A fresh and new Bureau of Corrections and Penitentiaries possibly including holding facilities and adjacent Courts to deal with the deplorable overcrowding of the exiting jail system and massive backlog of cases.
    Ignoring this giant problem allows criminals to live free for decades without fear of facing their debt to society.

  • Gerald Abueva

    The pressure is on. And it’s getting stronger and stronger. There’s really not much time left. Only about two years to go, considering the slow pace of gov’t bureaucracy. The investors who invested in Noynoy want their ROIs. The election donors of Noynoy want their payback. All along, they’ve set their eyes on the last few remaining prime lands left. Noynoy’s investors and election donors will keep pressing and pressing. They have a leverage on Noynoy, and they will use every bit of it to their advantage. On the other hand, our infantile Noynoy feels beholden to them for they have something on him. The sweetheart backroom deals will be consummated. No doubt about that. If not now, definitely within the last two minutes, as Noynoy fancies himself to be in an overly dramatic but scripted Ginebra comeback. The last few remaining green havens will be gone. That’s a foregone conclusion. Along Daang Matuwid, everything is for sale. And Noynoy will sell what’s not his for a song.



  • Manga Gamud

    Ang paggasta at pagbantay ng kaban ng bayan ang atupagin niyo hindi yung maghanap kung ano ang maibebenta para pagkaperahan. Maraming pera ang gobiyerno ang problema ay ang walang pakundangang paggasta na karamihan ay mga walang katuturan..
    Bakit di niyo hanapin muna kung saan dinala ni FVR ang perang pinagbilhan ng Fort Boni bago kayo magisip na na naman kung ano ang ibebenta.

    • tarikan

      Nagkarun daw si Tabako ng 18 holes championship golf course sa Antipolo. Pero barya lang yon sa benta ng Ft. Boni.

  • resortman

    Ang susing kaisipan na nalilimutan sa isyung yan..san napunta ang pinagbihan ng malalawak na lupain na yan? If the government agency concerned have been transparent in this transactions there could have been zero cloud of suspicion..ang huling.lumabas lang ay ang isyung ang mga tauhan ng BCDA ay,kumakamal ng limpak limpak na sweldo at bonuses..meron ngang babae dyan na sumasahod ng halos kalahating milyon kada buwan eh…BCDA was a brainchild of Venecia during the time of Tabaco…Venetia lost to Erap overwhelmingly…nakita nyo ba approval ng taong bayan?

  • Jay Alvin Madrigal

    then again, idle lands produce what?

    • Charlotte Samaniego

      At least it wouldn’t produce the dirty money for which Angelo Reyes shot himself.

  • Descarte5E

    Kung sarili ng military ang lupa, walang binabayarang upa at walang umiikot na pera na puedeng kunan ng komisyon. Kapag naibenta na, uupa na lang ng land and building, office spaces ang gobyerno at doon sa mga upa, papatungan nila at ibubulsa. joke. he he.

  • tarikan

    “The successful privatization of the 240 has. Fort Bonifacio worth P30.4 billion.” The majority of the proceeds of the “deal of the century” was supposed to be used for the AFP upgrade. Where was the upgrade aside from the upgrade of the generals and the commander-in-chief at that time?


    Highly privatized Philippines with NO REGARD to ENVIRONMENT, NOR, TO THE CITIZENRY.
    Keep the oligarchy going! Go Noynoy!

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